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DCPS feeling IMPACT?

The District has told the Education Department that it "can barely keep up" with the demands of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's ambitious new teacher evaluation system, called IMPACT. That's according to D.C's recently completed application for "Race to the Top," the Obama administration's multi-billion dollar grant competition to fund education reforms.

School officials have said they are pleased with IMPACT's rollout so far, although it has received mixed reviews from teachers and scorn from union leaders. Launched last fall at a cost of $4 million, IMPACT uses test scores and an elaborate new "teaching and learning framework" to assess educators on everything from how clearly they deliver information to their commitment to the school community.

Math and reading teachers in grades four through eight will have half of their evaluation based on the "value added" they bring to their students' DC-CAS scores this spring. All teachers are due to receive five classroom observations during the school year, three by school administrators and two from outside "master educators" with expertise in the instructors' field. The system also calls for follow up conferences and special interventions for teachers who need help. At the end of the school year, teachers who land on the "ineffective" portion of the 400-point scoring system could be fired.

But page 97 of the District's 184-page application says that DCPS desperately needs some of the $112 million Race grant money it is seeking to deal with the vast amounts of data it has compiled on individual teachers through classroom observations.

"Despite the significant achievement of the initial implementation of IMPACT, DCPS can barely keep up with ongoing IMPACT demands: it needs human and technological horsepower to analyze these data and determine which interventions are needed. Additionally, DCPS desperately needs to train and support its Master Educators to ensure that they can execute real-time interventions to help teachers who are minimally effective climb a steep learning curve." The application says it would also use the money to create a new principal evaluation system.

Rhee declined to comment on the document. Jason Kamras, her human capital deputy and an architect of IMPACT, did not respond to an e-mail message.

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By Bill Turque  |  February 3, 2010; 9:51 AM ET
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You mean there was no planning ahead on how to sift through this mountain of data when the $4 million program was set up?

Training is going to already highly qualified master educators who are receiving large salaries based on their expertise?

How about using some using some of the Rttt money to evaluate the Chancellor? That project has been put off for some time, supposedly for lack of funds.

Posted by: efavorite | February 3, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Evaluation needs to be on performance not on certification that has no correlation with performance.

Posted by: fredcorgi1 | February 3, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

As I posted with Jay Mathews:
I saw this in the Examiner:
The District's budget deficit for this fiscal year could hit nearly $220 million and double during the next, but D.C. leaders have no cash surplus to play with and cannot borrow more without violating the city's debt cap.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

And what about the money for the 2 tiered pay system?

[And why is Bill being so negative towards DCPS?

Posted by: edlharris | February 3, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit that I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the master educators. The 4 I have met (2 in my field, 2 in Social Studies) have all been very knowlegable and good at communicating teaching concepts.

However, the IMPACT rubric needs some tweaking, specifically the number of things that need to be done in 30 minutes is way too large. That said, it is a pretty good start.

The big issues I see are making it a little less checklist like and a little more holistic (although that might not be possible), and giving the master educators time to actually help stuggling teachers, who don't seem to have enough time to help since they are so busy assessing.

In addition, some training is needed on the scoring rubric, as I know a lot of teachers who have very different scores from Master Educators and Adminstration.

All in all, I think it is a pretty good start

Posted by: Wyrm1 | February 3, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

But page 97 of the District's 184-page application says that DCPS desperately needs some of the $112 million Race grant money it is seeking to deal with the vast amounts of data it has compiled on individual teachers through classroom observations.
Human beings make the observations and then supposedly a computer system is required to decide about what to do.

Imagine a hospital where all the observations of patients are made by doctors and then you are told that a computer system is needed to determine the course of action necessary from the observations.

This makes as much sense as most of the policies regarding public education in this country.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 3, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack abd Bill Turque,
Maybe Jason Kamras is hoping to spend money on video cameras to evaluate teachers:

Posted by: edlharris | February 3, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

They’re at it again! The title of Jay Mathews’ newest blog post just changed from "Did Rhee Lie? I don't think so" to "Are we speaking the same language on DC school policy?"

There’s no acknowledgment (yet), but the the (current) link reveals the switch:

Posted by: efavorite | February 3, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

To judge teachers by test scores is totally unfair. The primary variable that determines how well a student does is the home environment. If you are in a school district where a large number of students have a poor environment - they are going to do poorer on test scores. So that means that teachers who work hard in a more difficult school with children from more difficult home lives will unfairly be compared against teachers who work in schools with children with more stable home lives.

That DCPS should do such a thing is so grossly unfair as to be criminal.

Posted by: resc | February 3, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Judging teachers even partially by test scores is going to drive teachers out of teaching in more difficult schools. Everyone knows that.

Posted by: resc | February 3, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Resc says, "Judging teachers even partially by test scores is going to drive teachers out of teaching in more difficult schools"

That's the point! the teachers currently there will either leave or get fired and will be replaced by TFA kids who only stay two years.

In a few years the scores won't have changed much, but the teacher corps will be completely different and teacher recruitment firms will be in the money.

And the union will be busted.

Rhee's reform will be complete.

Posted by: efavorite | February 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

use some common sense. the evaluations based on test scores will not be based on simply the score the kid obtains. other factors will be considered, such as year over year improvement.

that is however, unless rhee wants a reason to fire almost anyone she wants. that may be the case. that is what the wtu gets for not playing nice years ago. she told the wtu regarding reform "we can do this with you or do this to you" (or something like that). you might be in the "to you" phase. wtu has nobody to blame but themselves. it was all spelled out for you

Posted by: makplan20002 | February 3, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

IMPACT is a spawn of Satan, and those who use it are propagators of evil!

Posted by: schooletal | February 3, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

IMPACT is a spawn of Satan, and those who use it are propagators of evil!

Posted by: schooletal | February 3, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

At my daughter's school the assistant principal has been swamped with doing IMPACT relate paperwork for at least three months now and there seems to be no end in sight.

Why does a newly revamped system have to be so heavily laden with paperwork (especially when they have Master educators)?

It is not a good way to operate. Other very important issues get ignored. There has to be a better, more fair way.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | February 3, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering. Was data from the IMPACT evaluation set up to be directly entered into a computer program (probably a database)right on the spot? If so the values in the program could be easily and quickly manipulated to give the results that are wanted.

Evaluators should have had wireless laptop computers in which they could enter the data directly in during the evaluation, and then that could be saved on the server.

Had that been done it would be easy to get the information out of the computer that was wanted. And there would be no paperwork to deal with.

Posted by: jlp19 | February 3, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Please don't tell me that the Impact system was a paper one, and now the data has to be entered into the computer. That's a really time consuming, slow way to get your information.

Had the program been set up from the beginning with the evaluators using wireless laptops and a specific software program for the data to be entered into, the data from could be moved from the laptops to the server. And the program on the server could have easily been used to get the information out.

Posted by: jlp19 | February 3, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Can someone answer how long it actually takes to do one of these evaluations? Our principal is literally running and working round the clock to do these things. Given that this leader worked very, very hard prior to IMPACT, I have some concerns about how this pace will be maintain. I won't even begin to discuss the effect it's had on the morale of the teachers.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | February 4, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse

It takes a pretty long time, especially if you are doing it right. I know that my AP who evaluated me spent 60 minutes observing the class, 2 hours typing up her notes and trying to score effectively using the rubric, and then almost an hour in post conference with me. This is in addition to providing support for the teachers who did not score well. (I did fine, we discussed a couple of issues that could be improved).

If you are doing it poorly, I suppose it could be done more quickly, but not much more so.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | February 4, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Wyrm1. So 4 hours an evaluation, multiplied by 3 evaluations each year is 12 hours per teacher. Multiply that by 30 teachers is 360 hours.

Around 180 days in the school year, right? So the principal is, on average, spending 2 hours of each day on impact.

Our school has more teachers than I listed here and no Assistant Principal. I am genuinely worried about what IMPACT is doing to my child's school.

Seriously, if Rhee or any of her staff had actually ever been a principal, I think they would understand that this is a ridiculous burden to place on an administrator.

Does anyone at 825 read these comments?

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | February 4, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Those of you teachers in DCPS reading this, what do you consider a bad score on IMPACT to be?

Posted by: chelita | February 4, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

i asked my daughter's principal about this system. she said that each teacher is seen by one of the three people (principal or asst. principals) for 30 minutes. the little booklet that she showed me tells them exactly how it is supposed to be done. sounds like other principals aren;t following their directions. then they take about an hour to write the comments. they then put all the comments and ratings into a computer thing that only the teacher and principal sees. she said that since she tends to meet with every teacher for a hlf hour twice each term that no more of her time is spent in special meetings for the teachers. so i don't think it takes 4 hours per teacher. she said it was the same amount of work as the old system, but it wasn't good for dealing with the teachers who were really bad.

i wanted to know so i asked. all that is what i was told. i don't know about the union stuff. hope it helps.

Posted by: mrspeepchuck | February 4, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't the people who brought IMPACT to DC explain ahead of time the amount of work it would take?

Posted by: resc | February 4, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

What I have heard about the IMPACT scenario at one of my two schools...that it is phenomenal. The assistant principal is really liking the way the process is going and find-it quite user friendly. I somewhat hold that comment in high-esteem because this assistant principal is a former teacher at the same school that she's responsible to implement IMPACT.

Again, is it helpful that leadership of the school has knowledge-base of sorts...YES IT DOES? As for my other school...the assistant principal who's responsible for the IMPACT review of teacher's is a former principal and thereto...finds the process quite adequate and readily customer friendly. I have heard from the principals of both schools and both are quite pleased with the assessments that are coming to light.

All in all when it is too much to read at can also be too much too explain. Could-it and will-it be tweaked...most definitely but in a way to make it better and in actuality that works out for the good for all DCPS personnel.

I just want to say...if the morale of the teachers are so detrimental or low. Then how do they honestly and truthfully handle PTSA conferences...and their way of IMPACTING a parent's decision on whether their child's education is worthy. If one can't be comfortable in evaluation process as a teacher...then it runs true to me that they are not comfortable in the educational process of teaching our children.

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 4, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Those of you teachers in DCPS reading this, what do you consider a bad score on IMPACT to be?

I've been teaching for a few years, and I think I would have been pretty disappointed if I had gotten less then a 3 (it's out of 4, with 9 subgroups that can be rated from 1 to 4). Remember, an average on all observations of 3.5 is the lowest value of "exceeds expectations" and 2.5 is the lowest average for "meets expectations". I think my level of disappointment would depend on what catagories I did poorly in.

For example, if I scored poorly on teaching different learning styles because of circumstances beyond my control like students needing more help then expected on the previous day's material/homework, I would survive. If I scored poorly on my level of respect for kids (positive interaction with students) I'd be pretty bummed because I try to be positive as much as possible.

I think that most APs are actually taking a little less time then mine, I'd say 2-3 hours per observation is a little more normal, but my AP is both awesome and through.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | February 4, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

This is not education reform. When are communities going to stand up and demand a qualified, effective DCPS leader who is truly about reform education for the betterment of children? This chancellor does not respect the people she is here to serve and help succeed. She needs to be thrown out of DC asap.

Posted by: DEDICATEDEDUCATOR | February 4, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

While certainly IMPACT still needs work it is definitely a step in the right conversation with my evaluator is one of the first in a long time that yielded any interesting ideas grounded in sound pedagogy and good evaluation system is only as good as its evaluators and the effort they put in and I think that the system is off to a good start (I have things I would change about my eval too)...AND, frankly, I do not think the revelations of the AP Government Teacher at Banneker yielded much sympathy from me...I'm betting his or her room is not 70 degrees on a 30 degree day (I regularly sweat in my room with the windows wide open in the middle of winter - which is exactly what my room was like when the evaluator came); nor his classes brimming with as many as 30 kids; nor his students varying in ability from some that honestly cannot multiply decimals to those who can solidly tackle Algebra; nor has he likely purchased five sharpeners already this year; nor does he likely have to call 20-30 parents (I see 100 kids a day)a night to try to get homework or keep parents informed about grades (and I can go on and on just like the rest of DCPS)...hence, his criticisms did not hit home with me...frankly, many of the items in IMPACT are not nice to have's but essentials...

Posted by: mathteachdc | February 4, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

mathteachdc, if you purchased 5 sharpeners, I assume electric, in one school year, I have a tip for you. I've had the same one for years because I don't let the kids use it or even touch it. I sharpen pencils for them and have a bunch of sharpened pencils ready for their use. They might not have erasers left, but they write. I'm not going to have students kill my pencil sharpeners. Just a tip from a veteran teacher.

Posted by: chelita | February 5, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Is the editorial board going to blame this on the union? I ask because they seem to blame many of Michelle Rhee's mistakes on the union.

Posted by: aby1 | February 5, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Hello folks-- please become informed!

WHat parents and citizens need to understand is that only 1/3 of IMPACT has been in use this year. The other 2/3 of the evaluation rolls out next year! If they are overwhelmed now (and they are), imagine how administrators will feel next year.

The rubric has some problems. MEs certainly weren't adequately trained, and we still don't understand what qualifies these people to be a "master educator", other than talking the right talk in an interview.

But next year the expectations for assessment, teaching, and professional responsibilities will be UNREAL. The amount of time it will take to fulfill the requirements of IMPACT will so far exceed a normal work day that you all haven't even begun to see fallout from teachers and administrators. I submit that it simply isn't humanly possible.

IN HER TENURE, RHEE HAS NOT PROVIDED ANY MEANINGFUL TRAINING FOR TEACHERS, just as none had been provided before (in my 11 years). So...where to?

Posted by: ame_hr | February 5, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Can you predict the season won-lost record of a soccer team from watcing 2 minutes of action in one game? Predict batting averages and bet your children's college tuition on how well you predict from watching single at-bats? How about annual hospital post-operative infection rates across 100 hospitals from seeing three wounds and the charts for those three patients?

The least the Post's education journalists could do would be to go next door to learn about teacher another evaluation and training system.

This IS more serious stuff than having an opinion of how the military should wage war in Afghanistan. The military is insulated from our uninformed and worthless opinions.
But, everyone can learn the basics of work sampling.

Posted by: incredulous | February 6, 2010 3:17 AM | Report abuse

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